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Hackers Using Bots, Scripts To Lock Down Restaurant Reservations

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,25 days | from the flaws-in-the-system dept.

Bug 214

Nerval's Lobster writes "Forget about hacking an app or database: for a small cadre of hackers in San Francisco, it's all about writing code that can score them a great table at a hot restaurant. According to the BBC, these developers and programmers have designed bots that scan restaurant Websites for open tables and reserve them. Diogo Mónica, a security engineer with e-commerce firm Square, is one of those programmers. A self-described foodie, he decided to get around his inability to score a table at the ultra-popular State Bird Provisions by writing a script that sent out an email every time the restaurant's reservation page changed. 'Once a reservation got canceled I would get an email and could quickly get it for myself,' he wrote in a blog posting. But soon he noticed something peculiar: 'As soon as reservations became available on the website (at 4am), all the good times were immediately taken and were gone by 4:01am.' He suspected it was automated 'reservation bots at work,' built by other programmers with a hankering for fine cuisine. 'After a while even cancellations started being taken immediately from under me,' he wrote. 'It started being common receiving an email alerting of a change, seeing an available time, and it being gone by the time the website loaded.' His solution was to build his own reservation bot, using Ruby, and post the code in the wild."

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214 comments

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Or... (5, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393825)

Go to a casual local place and have a backup plan if it is busy. Restaurants with mile-long reservation lists and >$100 plates are almost universally overrated.

Re:Or... (4, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393969)

It's the "Ode to my Stomach" syndrome.
Personally, I found home made food much more rewarding. At least I know for sure what do I put in my mouth. No funny business.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44393979)

Go to a casual local place and have a backup plan if it is busy. Restaurants with mile-long reservation lists and >$100 plates are almost universally overrated.

No shit.

$75 of great booze and $10 worth of food is a helluva lot better way to spend less money anyway.

Re:Or... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394057)

That place is so popular, nobody goes there anymore.

- Yogi

Re: Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394131)

To be fair, you can really only say that if you've never been to SBP in SF or, say, RBK in Berkeley...

Re: Or... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394237)

They're so cool they don't even need to make sure the fonts on their website are legible.

Re:Or... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394283)

State Bird Provision is a casual local place you ignorant fuck.

Re:Or... (1)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394589)

I live in the city and haven't eaten there yet, but it looks reasonably priced.

I do not that on the font of the website are the words, prominently displayed, "Walk-ins Welcome", so why even bother getting a reservation?

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394833)

It's jammed all the time. Unless you get there when it opens, walk in means walk in and stand around or have a couple drinks at a nearby bar for the next hour and a half. Mercifully, they will text you when your table is ready.

Can't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394339)

All the places serving sour grapes are booked up already.

Re:Or... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394353)

The State Bird place mentioned does not have particularly high prices. The current menu only has two items in the $20 range ($20 and $22). With prices like those -- and assuming good food -- who wouldn't want to eat there?

dom

Re:Or... (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394365)

Go to a casual local place and have a backup plan if it is busy. Restaurants with mile-long reservation lists and >$100 plates are almost universally overrated.

Unfortunately I live in a resort-y area and we're overrun during the summer months. I just learn to be a better cook. I'm becoming very good at cooking these days. So much so I hate going out to eat because I can do everything so much better.

now it's time for another episode of Samurai Short-order Chef

Re:Or... (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394471)

Another option: have dining in parties with your friends. Have each person take a rotation, try out new recipes/variants, and in general, have a good time without the bad music/bad lighting/bad seating. Non-paying guests can stay and wash the dishes ;)

Re:Or... (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394617)

Another option: have dining in parties with your friends. Have each person take a rotation, try out new recipes/variants, and in general, have a good time without the bad music/bad lighting/bad seating. Non-paying guests can stay and wash the dishes ;)

I remember seeing something about these in my parents magazines from the 1950s. People had some place in the house call a Dining Room and it was much larger than their computer den. Shocking!

Re:Or... (2)

drkim (1559875) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394801)

People had some place in the house call a Dining Room and it was much larger than their computer den. Shocking!

A room just for eating in? Weird.

How could you operate your computer from there..?

Re:Or... (1)

gagol (583737) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394573)

People do not eat out because it tastes to great, they go out because there is no meal to prepare or dishes to clean.

Re:Or... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394635)

People do not eat out because it tastes to great, they go out because there is no meal to prepare or dishes to clean.

And when I do that I generally regret not preparing something, even a can of beans. Dishes are rarely the chore some people draw them up to be.

Re:Or... (4, Interesting)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394487)

The most I ever paid for a meal was $700 per head for a 16 course tasting menu at a 3 star restaurant. I booked 6 weeks ahead. It was money well spent.

My priorities may differ from yours.

Re:Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394533)

Place looks like a dump, and the food doesn't look all that good either. What's up with the school cafeteria chairs? This is nothing but a poor attempt at publicity by the restaurant.

There must be something better to do with that (3, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393837)

God damn hipsters.

Re:There must be something better to do with that (4, Insightful)

Natales (182136) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394411)

Come on dude! It's so easy to be dismissive when you don't have a clue what are you talking about. Let me break your bubble: there are geeks that are hipsters, foodies and that just love the hedonistic pleasures of life. We all converge in this site at some point and share things that matter to all of us, but this is by no means all we are in life.

I've had to learn to appreciate our differences with fellow geeks and nerds that have completely opposite political views for example without demonizing them, and in the process I've learned a thing or two. Don't fall in the "us" and "them" rhetoric and learn to respect people that care about different things.

Cold Pizza (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393841)

Kids today. In my day programmers ate cold pizza and they liked it! Bonus points for pepperoni or sausage - there's nothing like cold congealed grease.

Re:Cold Pizza (1, Informative)

Ambvai (1106941) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394011)

Ever try a Domino's Thin Crust with Double Bacon? One of my friends in college got two of those once and, after the puking up the first one, left the second on his desk. The next day, he found the grease soaked through the pizza, its own box, the lid of the box under it, and the bottom of the box under it, sticking it solidly to the table.

Re:Cold Pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394083)

Yes, every single person who eats that pizza throws up. In fact, it's part of the marketing. When they tested it, they passed over the pizzas that did not cause the tasters to throw up.

Well, either that or your friend is lactose intolerant. I think I might just go with occam's razor here.

Re:Cold Pizza (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394425)

Yes, every single person who eats that pizza throws up.

No, but it looks like it to some people. I've had people who grew up in places without pizza say that to me. That was a while ago, so maybe there's no place left without pizza, but I'd be interested in more recent stories.

One guy I knew came here from the Lesser Antilles when he was 14. His new friend in America took him to a pizza place, but he thought it was a practical joke. Only after his friend started eating it did he try it.

Re:Cold Pizza (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394359)

Ever try a Domino's Thin Crust with Double Bacon?

This is where my regional snobbery kicks in. In NY you never order pizza from a chain. Even a randomly chosen neighborhood place is practically guaranteed to be better, let alone your choice neighborhood places.

Re:Cold Pizza (1)

drkim (1559875) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394911)

...The next day, he found the grease soaked through the pizza, its own box, the lid of the box under it, and the bottom of the box under it, sticking it solidly to the table.

"...that crap's gonna eat through the hull..."

Re:Cold Pizza (1)

locotx (559059) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394035)

Cold pizza was the best . . . not to mention the 12 pack of Dr. Pepper's that started out as cold but as the night progressed . . luke warm Dr. Peppers were acceptable. Bonus Points for Little Debbie snack cakes in the mix.

Re:Cold Pizza (1)

trigpoint (1230530) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394603)

Cold pizza is nothing, for real gross try cold donna kebab. Now thats living.

Re:Cold Pizza (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394379)

Kids today. In my day programmers ate cold pizza and they liked it! Bonus points for pepperoni or sausage - there's nothing like cold congealed grease.

And the noise regarding dinner reservations and Ruby [youtube.com] was something else entirely.

What's next? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44393849)

A DDoS to ensure no one gets reservations?

On the other hand (5, Informative)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393851)

The reservation company specifically denies that this is happening or is possible.

TFA:
http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2013/07/25/are-automated-bots-are-making-hot-online-reservations-impossible/ [sfgate.com]

Re:On the other hand (4, Informative)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393861)

The important part, which I failed to quote:

Update, 1:20pm: Urbanspoon has released a statement that reaffirms its earlier denial, and also refutes duplicate reservations and reservation fraud (though neither of those issues are technically in dispute):
"Urbanspoon’s data on State Bird Provisions’ reservations do not support the findings reported in Diogo Mónica’s post. While we will not disclose data about specific customers, we currently have processes in place to prevent duplicate reservations and combat reservation fraud. Urbanspoon’s goal is to give real diners the opportunity to make reservations. We’ve noticed that many diners will stop at nothing to get a table at the hottest restaurants in town, like State Bird Provisions , so we are constantly working on improving the overall reservations process to give all diners an opportunity to secure a table."

Re:On the other hand (3, Informative)

pipatron (966506) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393943)

And of course, everyone here knows that the answer is plain marketing bullshit.

Re:On the other hand (5, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394085)

Please, we're talking about fancy restaurants here. It's not just plain marketing bullshit. It's Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top and bullshit.

Re:On the other hand (1)

xevioso (598654) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394225)

That sounds delicious.

Re:On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394783)

Um, did you get as far as the "and bullshit" part?

Or do you just have very strange tastes?

Re:On the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394785)

Minus the bullshit. Just the lobster for me, thanks.

Re:On the other hand (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393993)

all bunch of blabla bla.

you know what would work out? if the tables are really all reserved all the fucking time, make a reservation cost.
then increase cost until you hit a spot. the restaurant should just charge more, if people want to pay a months rent to eat there then so be it.

btw how the fuck could they make sure they don't get duplicate reservations? checking id's of people coming in to match the reservation? they can't really rely on cookies, ip addresses or anything like that for it. not even fb profile linking would do it, easy enough to have fake profiles...

what urbanspoon cares about is that the tables are full, nothing else.

Re:On the other hand (4, Interesting)

blueg3 (192743) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394649)

you know what would work out? if the tables are really all reserved all the fucking time, make a reservation cost.
then increase cost until you hit a spot. the restaurant should just charge more, if people want to pay a months rent to eat there then so be it.

It's easier to auction off reservations rather than continually adjust the price until you find a level that works. And this was suggested by many people on Twitter early this morning already.

Re:On the other hand (2)

BaronAaron (658646) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393999)

I call BS on this. Sounds like Urbanspoon is just covering their ass.

Bottom line is their reservation system doesn't have any form of CAPTCHA which makes the use of reservation bots completely plausible.

Re:On the other hand (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394111)

we currently have processes in place to prevent duplicate reservations and combat reservation fraud.

While they may indeed have a system in place to prevent duplicate reservations, their answer is meaningless. If a person can make a reservation on-line then a bot can do the same, except faster and in the middle of the night while you're sleeping.

Re:On the other hand (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394527)

we currently have processes in place to prevent duplicate reservations and combat reservation fraud.

But this isn't duplicate reservations. Nor does it appear to be reservation fraud; nobody's said anything about third-party sale of the reservations. It's just people automating the process of getting a reservation.

Re:On the other hand (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394535)

The important part, which I failed to quote:

Update, 1:20pm: Urbanspoon has released a statement that reaffirms its earlier denial, and also refutes duplicate reservations and reservation fraud (though neither of those issues are technically in dispute):
"Urbanspoon’s data on State Bird Provisions’ reservations do not support the findings reported in Diogo Mónica’s post. While we will not disclose data about specific customers, we currently have processes in place to prevent duplicate reservations and combat reservation fraud. Urbanspoon’s goal is to give real diners the opportunity to make reservations. We’ve noticed that many diners will stop at nothing to get a table at the hottest restaurants in town, like State Bird Provisions , so we are constantly working on improving the overall reservations process to give all diners an opportunity to secure a table."

And since these bot'ed reservations aren't appearing for sale on Craigslist, nor do these popular restaurants appear to be suffering from excessive no-shows, what exactly is happening to these reservations that are supposedly stolen by bots?

I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (3, Insightful)

Dorianny (1847922) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393903)

These days you can't even post on a forum without going through some form of CAPTCH,A never mind trying to buy tickets or book reservations.

Re:I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393953)

Yeah, but modern CAPTCHAs are so convoluted that computers can solve them more easily than I can.

Re:I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (1)

Dorianny (1847922) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394115)

Yeh. OCR has gotten so good that CAPTCHA developers have no choice but to make their images so distorted that even human pattern recognition can't easily make them out anymore.

Re:I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (1)

quacking duck (607555) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394287)

Yeh. OCR has gotten so good that CAPTCHA developers have no choice but to make their images so distorted that even human pattern recognition can't easily make them out anymore.

That's why some captchas now have knowledge-based answers in the rotation, like showing an image of a brand name and asking what it's known for. Or assembling a small puzzle.

Re:I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394547)

The ones that get me are the language localized ones that display words in the native language and instruct you, in the native language, to do something to the words (like, remove all vowels, write the singular form of the word, etc). I have to say, my language skills have improved as a result of those (not much though; I just keep re-trying the captcha until I get one I can guess, just like a bot would do).

Re:I guess they never heard of CAPTCHA (3, Informative)

al0ha (1262684) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394449)

Wrong. OCR still can't defeat reCAPTCHA - however depending on the prize there's a multitude of other ways to do it which do not involve OCR including low paid workers in third world countries being served the captcha and solving it for the automated algorithm, or in the case of Ticketmaster, where the prizes were monetarily substantial, a group of miscreants going to the trouble of databasing just about every Captcha solution they could find. One group also was able to p0wn the audio version of reCAPTCHA for a while until it was upgraded. Another group has claimed they use OCR to defeat reCAPTCHA, but have never proven that to be the case and if they can, why not prove it?

Citations:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReCAPTCHA [wikipedia.org]
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/11/wiseguys-plead-guilty/ [wired.com]

Reservation fees? (2)

bradley13 (1118935) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393927)

I would think that a lot of bot reservations would go unused, at least, as soon as the newness of this wears off. How long until restaurants start charging a nonrefundable reservation fee?

Re:Reservation fees? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394063)

I would think that a lot of bot reservations would go unused, at least, as soon as the newness of this wears off. How long until restaurants start charging a nonrefundable reservation fee?

And/or a simple wait list that gives preference for preferred customers? I.e. The restaurants should see this as an unmet need, and provide their customers a solution.

Re:Reservation fees? (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394209)

what unmet need? they are fully booked.

one time years ago my wife wanted to go eat at some place in NYC that cost $600 for dinner for two people after taxes, tip and whatever. i tried making reservations, but the place was booked solid for months in advance and we forgot about it after a while

Re:Reservation fees? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394375)

If people are willing to go to the trouble of creating bots to find cancelations, then it's likely there are people who will *pay* for that service. The bot runners might be selling their service, similar to ticket scalpers. On the other hand, they might be doing it just because they can.

Re:Reservation fees? (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394699)

some place in NYC that cost $600 for dinner for two people after taxes, tip and whatever. i tried making reservations, but the place was booked solid for months in advance

Face facts. The problem wasn't that the restaurant was booked, the problem was that you are not famous.

Re:Reservation fees? (2)

bfandreas (603438) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394215)

There will always be preferred customers and I suppose a lot of these reservations are made in person, face to face and way in advance.

Also this is why we can't have good things. Brainless botter suspects brainless botters to be faster than him. Honestly, his behaviour is highly anti-social, egocentric and overly obnoxious. If I where running a successful restaurant I would go to great pains to avoid people like him. the likelyhood of him annoying other patrons is just too much. Do you need another jackass who photographs his food, posts it to Tubeface, starts a loud Skype conversation discussing his food and then complaining that it is not quite as warm as he'd have hoped.

Remember: it is NOT against the law to filter out jerks. That is neither racism nor censorship. It is in fact good business sense. If you want to meet other people with a similarly bad behaviour go to McDonalds.


Goddamn hipster.

Re:Reservation fees? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394123)

I would think that a lot of bot reservations would go unused, at least, as soon as the newness of this wears off. How long until restaurants start charging a nonrefundable reservation fee?

I would imagine, if anything, they would charge maybe $5 that would then be included as part of the payment on your bill should you end up keeping the reservation; ie. on a $50 check you would only have to pay $45. Or people can just call in and make reservations like you used to have to do.

Re:Reservation fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394371)

The $5 deposit sounds like a great idea, but keep in mind that, as stated in the BBC article, most restaurants only offer some of their tables for advanced reservation online, they keep the rest for walkins and other types of reservations.

So either the SF restaurants are not doing it right, or these people have just plain forgotten how to use a phone. Either way this is not an article about hackers, it's an article about how technology has made some people forget more traditional means of getting something done.

Re:Reservation fees? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394133)

Make the reservation transferrable, and suddenly it would create a market, eliminating the shortage of reservation slots. To get a reservation, just go to eBay. Of course, if you can find it on eBay and the restaurant isn't the seller, it's a sign that the restaurant charged too little (below the market clearing rate) for the reservation in the first place.

Re:Reservation fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394201)

I would think that a lot of bot reservations would go unused, at least, as soon as the newness of this wears off. How long until restaurants start charging a nonrefundable reservation fee?

That would start getting stunningly close to the old "bribe the head waiter to get a seat" scheme of the days of old. I mean, some restaurants might like that sort of exclusive reputation, but that'd quickly gun down any interest for the not-rich-or-super-connected.

Though, if you were to rephrase that such that the reservation fee is applied to the check, making it more of a nonrefundable deposit rather than a fee, then you might have something...

Re:Reservation fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394269)

Alinea and Next already do that. They don't take reservations, they sell nonrefundable tickets. Though the food is the same on any given day, a ticket for a Saturday costs more than one for a Tuesday.

It's called Ticketmaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44393945)

And they've been doing it since before these kids were born.

This isn't hacking (5, Insightful)

hypergreatthing (254983) | 1 year,25 days | (#44393947)

This is just a html scraper. People have had the same thing going on ebay for years. Suddenly it's hacking? Give me a break.

CFAA (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394073)

Under the (U.S.) Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, any use not permitted in a site's terms of service is in effect "hacking".

Re:CFAA (1)

w1zz4 (2943911) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394299)

Well Google/Yahoo/Bing bots are always doing the exact samething unless you tell them no to do so...

Robot exclusion (2)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394331)

Well Google/Yahoo/Bing bots are always doing the exact samething unless you tell them no to do so...

There's an accepted protocol to tell those and other well-behaved bots not to do so in a /robots.txt file. I doubt that reservation bots obey /robots.txt.

Re:This isn't hacking (2)

SeaFox (739806) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394099)

Suddenly it's hacking? Give me a break.

Haven't you heard? Nowadays using a computer to access/use something in any way the original creator doesn't like is "hacking".

Re:This isn't hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394179)

Haven't you heard? Nowadays using a computer to access/use something in any way the original creator doesn't like is "hacking".

Hitting their website once a minute 24/7 might very well be illegal.

Re:This isn't hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394427)

so if i sit here and push f5 on their website every minute, i'm breaking the law? strange.

Re: This isn't hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394247)

Yes, and anyone who shows just the least interest or minimal amount of knowledge in a subject are a nerd.

Re:This isn't hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394105)

There's the other casual use of hacking though - the guy that cobbles together some code to solve a problem.
In my place of work there's such thing as a code hacker but it's a derogatory term for bad coders.

Agree though - it'd be good if we could fix this hacked hacking term.

Re:This isn't hacking (3, Interesting)

harvestsun (2948641) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394119)

But your forget that the U.S. legal system has decided that accessing publicly accessible URLs [technologyreview.com] constitutes hacking. I guess the new definition of hacking is "using something in a way you weren't intended to".

Re:This isn't hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394147)

Hey, man, whatever it takes to criminalize computing, you know? Once they've got it in the public consciousness that basic computing and programming is inevitably Evil(tm) and Bad(tm), we'll be right back to the horse-and-buggy times that most career politicians fondly remember as "the good old days" when they could keep the world* straight in their minds. Then, everything** will be better!

*: For definitions of "the world" being limited to "the farm on which they grew up and maybe their neighbors".
**: Everything in the world, at least. See previous footnote.

Re:This isn't hacking (1)

The Moof (859402) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394633)

It was probably even easier than that. Given today's WWW climate of everything being JSON/AJAX driven, you can just query the site and have the seating information delivered ready to use.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44393955)

It has come to this.

Abusing the system (5, Insightful)

Torodung (31985) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394017)

This is abuse of the reservation system, plain and simple. It simply is not robust enough (too informal) to handle bots. I suspect it soon will become commonplace to require tortuous captchas for reservations. Great job, lazy hacktivists! You've ruined e-life for everyone.

As for posting code for it in the wild so any script kiddy can do it. Good for you. That's called leveling the playing field. It's the proliferation of bots just to be shits to each other that rankles my ire, not the fact that everyone can now do it.

Re:Abusing the system (2)

Thud457 (234763) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394281)

It's just Wall street quants doing to restaurants what they've done to the financial markets.

OH FUCK, WE'RE ALL GONNA STARVE!!!

Re:Abusing the system (1)

Dachannien (617929) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394553)

It's just Wall street quants doing to restaurants what they've done to the financial markets.

Heard on the floor of the NYSE in the near future:

"Sell! SELL! SELL! Oh, great, I can never get these.... what the hell is that? Uh... UB3Q6Y? No?.... well, fuck..." (jumps out nearest window)

Terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394039)

This isn't a hack by any measure of the word. This is use of a service through that service's protocol. What's next, "hacking" gmail by reading your email in thunderbird or emacs? I'll give ten to one odds that this is just some new startup that claims to sell reservations to overbooked restaurants, and does it by reserving places at 4 in the morning.

self-described foodie (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394079)

Are there foodies who are NOT self-described?

This is why we can't have nice things (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394093)

Heaven forbid we should have the convenience of making a reservation online. No, it's takes a bunch of assholes to game the system and screw it up. Not that it's anything new, as online ticketing for popular events has been gamed for fun and profit by scalpers for years.

If all of my family were to suddenly die in a freak accident and I was left alone with nothing to live for, I would hunt every bot maker down and shoot them for amusement. (Oh, and happy Friday everybody!)

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394343)

Heaven forbid we should have the convenience of making a reservation online. No, it's takes a bunch of assholes to game the system and screw it up. Not that it's anything new, as online ticketing for popular events has been gamed for fun and profit by scalpers for years.

If all of my family were to suddenly die in a freak accident and I was left alone with nothing to live for, I would hunt every bot maker down and shoot them for amusement. (Oh, and happy Friday everybody!)

Welcome to Earth.

We call ourselves "humans".

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (2)

Bucc5062 (856482) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394693)

Now that is a the foundation for a good movie plot. I'd go see that one. Somehow, even though you're killing off people, you still remain the protagonist with the evils one being the other bot developers. At the end you die (of course, a tragic hero's path), but save the world...for now.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (3, Informative)

nuckfuts (690967) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394605)

Way to keep your response on par with your nick.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394691)

If there's more demand for reservations (or tickets) than are available at a given price, the price should go up. The reservations should be sold using an auction system.

so the alternative is clear (0)

nimbius (983462) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394167)

learn to cook, and eat at home. not only will you avoid supporting an industry that underpays and brutalizes every employee from servers to dishwashers, but you'll avoid other ugly things like reservation wars and hepatitis. Invite friends over, turn the TV off, have a good conversation, but stop shoveling coal into this engine of human misery we call "fine dining."

Re:so the alternative is clear (1)

Dorianny (1847922) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394361)

I am a competent cook but for certain things such as prime grade beef, today's catch fish for sushi or certain recipes that require more time than I can spare, such as duck confit, than I have little choice but to go to a restaurant.

Re:so the alternative is clear (1)

pspahn (1175617) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394367)

Stopped by the grocery store last night to pick something up. Was delighted to find tri-tip not only available in Denver, but on sale for $4/lb (this cut of beef is usually only found in California, though, it's becoming more common elsewhere).

Simple rub, a five minute sear on each side on the grill, and 35 minutes over indirect heat on the grill. This is not rocket surgery. With a some roasted potatoes and fresh greens and tomatoes from the garden, this was easily an $18 plate at one of the trendy little boutique restaurants that line 6th avenue here. I paid $20 for groceries and there was enough leftover that I'm going to go have a sandwich now!

Besides all that, it's just much nicer sitting in the backyard having a nice meal than going to some douche-cafe and having to order something I don't particularly care for because "no substitutions" means they get all smug when I ask them to put their overbearing sauces on the side instead of smothering my food with it. Beef does not need 8 oz of garlic aioli on top of it to be delicious, salt and pepper will do.

Memories (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394169)

I did this back when the Wii was initially released to get one for retail when they were going for twice that on eBay. Scraped the major retailers product pages on a cron and told me when there was stock (which usually lasted a couple of minutes). Worked pretty well.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394197)

I wouldn't go to a restaurant where I could find the kind of people so obsessed to go there, that they would do something like that. :D

Impossible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394211)

I know you will need an army of bots if you want to get into Dorsia on a Friday evening.

Ruby?? (5, Funny)

happyhamster (134378) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394229)

Pfff, my soon-to-be-released Assembly program will put his slow ruby ass to shame, thus starting HFR (high frequency reservation) era and trading in reservation futures.

Re:Ruby?? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394737)

Pfff, my soon-to-be-released Assembly program will put his slow ruby ass to shame, thus starting HFR (high frequency reservation) era and trading in reservation futures.

He already talked about moving his sytems closer to reduce network latency.

Revenge of the Nerds (4, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394355)

One of the perks of dating a geek is that we are now the only ones who are ever going to take you to the hottest restaurant in town.
Jocks need not apply.

-

Just make all reservations "pending approval" ... (1)

davidwr (791652) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394443)

... and give anyone who requests a slot within TIMEPERIOD of it becoming available a shot at it.

Whether you give everyone an equal shot lottery-style or give preference to select customers, to new customers, or whatever is up to you.

Bonus points if you make it easier by incorporating the waiting list into the system, or simply not advertising the vacancy if there is someone on the waiting list who is available to take the canceled reservation. After all, that's what waiting lists are for, right?

Hacking for the one percent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44394583)

I am not impressed.

Attention Non-Programmers (2)

Bob9113 (14996) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394601)

Attention Non-Programmers: This is what the future looks like. If you don't learn to make your computers obey you, if you don't take control of your information flows, you will be marginalized by the people, corporations, and governments that do.

I'm not saying it is right. I'm saying it is. As philosopher-poet Ash once observed; "Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

HFT (1)

dcollins (135727) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394623)

High Frequency Tables.

Getting a direct fiber-optic link to the restaurant's web server could improve on this.

Smells like an advertisement. (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394627)

I suspect that this is just paid for advertisement for the diner in question. It conveys that the diner is in demand, the diners locations, and that it has resverations.

Something about this story (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | 1 year,25 days | (#44394647)

just doesn't taste right to me....

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